Boredom and Relapse
Boredom is a Relapse Trigger
Boredom is frequently cited as a reason for why addicts relapse after a period away from addiction. If life lacks meaningful activities the individual may yearn for the excitement that they associate with using alcohol or drugs. It may have been feelings of boredom that encouraged the person to begin experimenting with mind altering chemicals in the first place. In order to prevent relapse, it is important that the individual develops new interests in recovery.
Boredom is an emotion that people experience when they lack interest in their surroundings. Boredom occurs when people feel unable to engage in an activity or situation. It also occurs when they are prevented from getting involved in an activity they like or are forced to get involved in an activity they don’t like. Boredom is generally viewed as a minor problem that everyone will experience from time to time, but it can lead to serious knock-on-effects. Boredom can cause emotional and psychological problems for the individual as well as problems within society such as vandalism and drug abuse.
Boredom in Rehab
Clients who go through addiction rehab may experience periods of boredom. Substance abuse takes up a lot of time and energy and can even give life apparent meaning. The goal of getting a regular supply of alcohol and drugs creates a lot of drama, and when this is taken away it can leave a feeling of emptiness. This energy that was once directed towards remaining addicted needs to be refocused, or there is a high risk of relapse.
These feelings of boredom are particularly dangerous in rehab because it can sap motivation. If the individual feels that life without addiction is not enjoyable, then they may decide that it is not worth having. Most rehab facilities will provide different activities to discourage boredom. Clients are also encouraged to socialize with one another and discuss their feelings because isolation can further increase feelings of boredom.
Boredom in Recovery
In recovery, it is not enough to just remove alcohol or drugs from the individual’s life. New activities need to be introduced so that they will be able to fill their time and avoid boredom. If there is no attempt to replace this empty time, then it will just lead to boredom and relapse. It is suggested that boredom is the first step on the road to relapse in many cases. This is why it is crucial that a lot of effort is put into finding new interests. Support groups are a good option because they offer the chance to socialize and learn from others about what to do with free time.
Boredom or Depression
Boredom has been linked to depression. It has even been suggested that boredom is a form of depression. Both boredom and depression are characterized by a negative mood and a feeling that life has lost its meaning. It is important to be able to distinguish between these two conditions in recovery in order to choose the right course of treatment. Depression may require medical intervention while boredom is a sign that new interests are required to give life in recovery meaning.
New Interests in Recovery
It is vital that individuals in recovery find new interests to fill up their time. These can be activities that they once enjoyed prior to becoming addicted or they can be something completely new. These new interests can provide real pleasure and give life purpose. The individual will usually be surprised that there are so many exciting choices available in recovery. They can even start to complain that there are not enough hours in the day to do all the things they want to do, and can now do once they are free from addiction.
A lack of willingness to find new interests in recovery is a bad omen. It could mean that the individual is on the path to relapse. Trying new things can be a bit intimidating, but without a willingness to do this, there is real danger of a return to old behaviors. This is why addiction therapists will spend a lot of time encouraging the client to find things to do with their time.
Meditation as a Boredom Cure
Meditation has been suggested as a means for dealing with boredom and other negative feelings in recovery. Techniques such as mindfulness teach the individual to observe feelings like boredom in such a way as to make them more manageable. Meditation has also been shown to increase energy levels and feelings of well being. Walking meditation may be of particular benefit to those who are dealing with boredom in recovery.